Lawmakers Discuss 2017 Budget
State lawmakers are braced for another tough budgeting process as they return Tuesday to Montgomery for the 2016 legislative session. Governor Robert Bentley said General Fund revenue could be short $180-million to $200-million next year. Meanwhile, several state agencies told lawmakers this month they need more money in 2017 to maintain current operations. Medicaid, the largest General Fund agency, asked for an additional $156-million. House leaders said last week a raise for teachers and community college instructors was a priority. They say each 1-percent increase would cost $40-million. There is one tax increase being discussed — a gas tax hike that would support road infrastructure projects. Also, a Republican-filed bill would allow voters to say “yes” or “no” to the creation of a state lottery. Lawmakers are also looking for possible legislative changes to the Retirement Systems of Alabama. RSA is requesting $961-million from the state for the next year.